29.8.20

Q&A with Creative Mixed Media Artist, Rebecca Lawrence

Rebecca Lawrence, Malaysian Mixed Media Artist of Painted Things

Being able to transfer a person's feelings, thoughts and emotions unto a piece of artwork is a Creative Artist's super power. I definitely would think so, because artists are visionaries. They are able to spark joy, make art that moves you and speak to you through colours and visuals. That's amazing, don't you think? You can say that it is kind of like magic. I have known Rebecca for sometime and I have known her as an artist who has the gift of taking precious life moments and immortalizing it through painted things. I have been following her work, and I can tell you that her personalized painted things is extraordinary. I resonate with Rebecca and how she tells her client's stories through her painted things. Which reminds of what I once said to a fellow Creative, "Every artist's story is a story that must be told." -Shia Lynn

Here's one with Rebecca!
Hello! My name is Rebecca. I own and run Painted Things- and as the name suggests I literally paint on things such as glass, wood, walls, wax, fabric, as well as, made-to-order for my clients as decorative items or personalized gifts. I have been doing this for over 16 years now. 

Recently, I had a moment to reflect on what it is that has kept me going down this (unconventional and fairly uncertain) path and why it fulfills me. I found my answer very quickly- I have been privileged to share in some of life's greatest moments through what I paint for my clients, more than I could ever experience on my own. 16 years of celebrating the joys of countless birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, new babies, graduations, new jobs and retirements, all sorts of achievements and milestones and friendship; and on the other end of the spectrum, grieving the loss of loved ones. Each event is so personal, and I get invited to be a part of it. They paint me a life more rich and colorful just as I paint them 'things' that color to theirs.

How did you start your artistic journey?
My journey started when I was a child. My mother played a huge part in instilling a love for arts and crafts in me very early on. She was a stay-at-home mum and she home-schooled my sister and I during our kindergarten years. We had the most amazing time learning with her. She supplemented her lessons with drawing and coloring with paints and crayons; building things out of cardboard, wood, plasticine, clay, twigs and leaves; sewing, gluing and just about anything she creatively came up with to make our lessons fun and engaging.

Growing up, we never had conventional Christmas trees; instead, my mum would have us create unique decorations every year. Our dad would get involved too and together we would make our one-of-a-kind Christmas decor – almost always from scraps. One of our favorite shows to watch on TV was Art Attack with Neil Buchanan – we would try out the different projects and techniques he featured in each episode. These early foundations set me up for what I would fall back on. I went down a different path in my early pursuit of a career – first studying and then working as a writer in the advertising and communications line. While I loved flexing my creativity in writing in this field, it left me unfulfilled. I left it all behind to join forces with my sister to start Painted Things. It has since been 16 years and I’m still here, albeit on my own now, but still with the support of my mum, dad and sister.

How did you find your style as an artist and created a niche in the products & services that you offer?
This is something that I find hard to do as it is so diverse. I draw inspiration from many sources. I never had formal training in art, so controversial as it may seem, I began by copying other artists. I have no shame in admitting that some of my earliest works were replicas of what others made - their designs, their use of color and their techniques - it was how I learnt. My first foray into this world of arts and crafts was in glass painting and the internet was my only reference into the possibilities and potential of this art form. The more I created the more I discovered and developed my own style. Working with my sister then, we found that more and more of our clients would ask for personalized gifts – for weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, religious celebrations and such. And that’s how we came up with Painted Things, with the tagline ‘gifts with a personal touch’.
As I explored painting on various surfaces – glass, wood, fabric, clay and wax, personalization became the center of my services. I create according to my clients wants and needs. I have been lucky to have some wonderful clients who are every much responsible as I am for my growth in this field. They continue to challenge and push me beyond my comfort zones. There are pieces and projects I never imagined I would be capable of, all because someone else believed in me.

How do you handle challenging moments as an artist, especially when it comes to paid projects?

I get as much information as I possibly can before I commit to a project. Early on I used to accept projects without having a full picture of what a client wants. More often than not it was because I was too eager and some clients are just indecisive and vague. You find yourself filling in the gaps on your own and lose sight of your end goal. So from experience, I now keep an open line of communication with my clients and get them to clearly commit to what they want so that I can manage expectations as well as create and deliver on projects to the best of my abilities.

What are the valuable life lessons that you have learned that have helped you as an artist?

Being open to change is a lesson I’ve translated most to my work – both in the artistic and business aspect. Change is constant and inevitable. As a younger artist, it made me uptight and angsty – just when you get comfortable with one way of doing things, situations and life events disrupt your flow and throw you off-balance. Navigating and transitioning between these changes can be difficult, but as you get older, you realize that it is possible to embrace it without losing hold of yourself as an artist. With the country coming out of COVID-19 lock down, we are weathering new changes on every level.

Embracing it and learning how to adapt has certainly helped.

If you feel you can relate to Rebecca's journey as an artist, and resonate with the joy that comes with creative personalisation, follow her on Instagram at Painted Things.

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Q&A with Creatives is an interview topic by The Artsy Craftsy to empower fellow artists, crafters and makers with artful life and business tips and advice.

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